Monster Licks: Blues-Derived Shred Lick Mixing Sweep, Alternate and Legato Picking
In this Monster Lick, I'm using the "E major 3rd pentatonic."
The notes in this scale are E, G#, A, B, D. As you can see from the notes, I'm substituting the G minor 3rd with the G# major 3rd.
As explained in previous columns, this particular variation of the scale gives a less aggressive sound and is a great way to inject a little character into your runs and melodies. This also happens to be one of my favorite scales.
A lot of players find the pentatonic scale limiting. There was a time where I, too, was struggling with it. That's until I started digging a little deeper. I discovered the variations of the scales the blues greats had been using for decades to create different moods and feels. I simply took this idea and developed it into my own style.
I can imagine some people will probably consider as far detached from the blues as anything could be, but I must tell you that all of this, tonally, is derived from the blues. If you slowed it down, it would be very easy to hear the roots of my style and approach.
I simply adapt my own techniques/arpeggio style playing to the same five notes that thousands of guitar slingers have used before me. This should be somewhat of an inspiration for players who are feeling bogged down. The possibilities are endless! You can create your own approach to even the most-used and commonly heard scales. All it takes is creative thinking and belief in your talent.
This lick is a combination of sweep/alternate picking and legato. I often get asked about how I go about switching between these techniques. This is the perfect example!
I start the lick with a sweep arpeggio then go into an alternate-picked line on the D string, finishing with a pull-off, then into the next arpeggio starting from the A string. Immediately you can see how I combine these different techniques to maneuver around the fretboard. I suggest focusing in on this first part; work on achieving smooth transitions at a slow speed — then work your way up to full speed.
As is often the case with these licks, there's a lot to digest. The most important thing is to have an understanding of the different techniques Im using to transition around the fretboard.
Have fun with it!
Australia's Glenn Proudfoot has played and toured with major signed bands and artists in Europe and Australia, including progressive rockers Prazsky Vyber. Glenn released his first instrumental solo album, Lick Em, in 2010. It is available on iTunes and at glennproudfoot.com. His latest album — a still-untitled all-instrumental release — will be available in March 2014.